View Full Version : The Evolution and Importance of Army/Marine Corps Field Manual 3-24

06-28-2007, 09:35 AM
SWJ Blog - The Evolution and Importance of Army/Marine Corps Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/06/the-evolution-and-importance-o/) by LTC John Nagl.

Although there were lonely voices arguing that the Army needed to focus on counterinsurgency in the wake of the Cold War—Dan Bolger, Eliot Cohen, and Steve Metz chief among them—the sad fact is that when an insurgency began in Iraq in the late summer of 2003, the Army was unprepared to fight it. The American Army of 2003 was organized, designed, trained, and equipped to defeat another conventional army; indeed, it had no peer in that arena. It was, however, unprepared for an enemy who understood that it could not hope to defeat the U.S. Army on a conventional battlefield, and who therefore chose to wage war against America from the shadows.

The story of how the Army found itself less than ready to fight an insurgency goes back to the Army’s unwillingness to internalize and build upon the lessons of Vietnam. Chief of Staff of the Army General Peter Schoomaker has written that in Vietnam, “The U.S. Army, predisposed to fight a conventional enemy that fought using conventional tactics, overpowered innovative ideas from within the Army and from outside it. As a result, the U.S. Army was not as effective at learning as it should have been, and its failures in Vietnam had grave implications for both the Army and the nation.” Former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army General Jack Keane concurs, recently noting that in Iraq, “We put an Army on the battlefield that I had been a part of for 37 years. It doesn’t have any doctrine, nor was it educated and trained, to deal with an insurgency . . . After the Vietnam War, we purged ourselves of everything that had to do with irregular warfare or insurgency, because it had to do with how we lost that war. In hindsight, that was a bad decision.”...

Much more at the link.

06-28-2007, 12:23 PM
SWJ Blog - The Evolution and Importance of Army/Marine Corps Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/06/the-evolution-and-importance-o/) by LTC John Nagl.

Much more at the link.

John touches on a common theme: I was whining to my wife about how much I need a new car and her response was something to the effect of "I'm tired of listening to your lonely voice." At least I think that's what she said.

06-29-2007, 09:10 PM
While I would have to do a lot more research to be able to prove this, one of the things that hasn't been mentioned is that FM 3-24 is a "narrative" or, rather, a "narrative in potential" in the same sense that the term is used to describe cultural narratives within the document.

As such, it will need time to be internalized into the "collective unconscious" (to misuse a Durkheimian term). It will be tested over time and on the ground, and that testing will be not only in the pragmatic area but, also, in the "eplanatory" area - i.e. will it be able to provide enough of an explanation for the troops on the ground?


09-12-2007, 06:08 PM
Foreign Service Journal, Sep 07: Crafting a New Counterinsurgency Doctrine (http://www.afsa.org/fsj/sept07/crafting.pdf)

....the Army and Marine Corps have raised the banner of human rights in their new counterinsurgency doctrine. The question is whether the rest of the U.S. government — in particular foreign affairs and national security professionals — will leverage the field manual’s principles into a broader campaign against terrorism that protects core human rights regardless of faith or nationality.

The Army and Marine Corps doctrine offers the most strategic approach to terrorism currently available within the U.S. government; it is no coincidence that the doctrine revolves around rights of foreign civilians. Field Manual 3-24, as it is generally known, honestly catalogs the costs and requirements of civilian protection and nationbuilding in pursuit of stability. It demands a parallel and overarching national policy for strengthening states against revolutionary challengers, a policy that will, in turn, lead to the development of adequate military and civilian resources to meet that challenge.

But the obstacles are enormous. First, the American public has grown weary of Iraq and appears to conflate that war with counterinsurgency more broadly (even though the field manual’s subtext cautions against preemptive regime change). Administration officials do not want to admit their failings in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is the first step toward necessary change in national policy. Civil servants are understandably wary of being pressed into the service of “more Iraqs.” And interagency squabbling and parochialism have drained the intellectual coherence and utility from the bureaucracy’s efforts.....